No-one is ever going to know what actually happened on the night that Kathleen Peterson died back in December, 2001.
The extent of Kathleen’s injuries means that there will always be those that believe Michael Peterson murdered his wife. While others will insist that there just wasn’t enough evidence to convict Peterson, and that the defense proved the injuries could have been sustained by her falling down the stairs.
One person who should have formed a solid opinion over whether Michael Peterson is guilty or not guilty is Jean Xavier de-Lestrade, the director of “The Staircase,” the epic new Netflix documentary that has followed every detail of the case for 15-years.
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But even Lestrade isn’t entirely convinced one way or another. “After 15 years following the case, and after spending weeks, months, and years with Michael Peterson and his family, I still can’t tell you I am convinced by something.”
However, when pressed, Lestrade suggested that he believes Peterson is innocent. “To me the best evidence that he is in innocent is if you review all of the evidence, try to figure out how someone can kill someone in such a way that there is no skull fracture.”
“Because the way she died was a loss of blood, of course there were many other reasons for her death. But she was not seriously injured. It was very superficial.”
“She stayed at the bottom of her stairs more than one hour in her house, she died from loss of blood. Which is very scary. But if someone can explain to me how you kill a woman like Kathleen in that way, I am not sure it is a crime.”
Things weren’t always so crystal clear for those involved in “The Staircase.” In fact, Lestrade recalled that after their first creative meeting for the series one producer on the show “was completely convinced that it was a murder and Michael Peterson did it.”
Lestrade was never so certain. “I was much more balanced. There are a lot of things that might make you think it wasn’t an accident. There was so much blood, there are so many injuries.”
“In an emotional way it is very hard to accept that it is anything else other than a crime. But when Michael was talking about Katherine he was very sincere with his love for her.”
“I really looked at the file of the case, because David Rudolf let us do that, and I didn’t see any physical evidence that said he was guilty.”
“I told Michael, ‘I wasn’t there on the night. Nothing shows me that you did it. So, for me, you are innocent. But only because there is nothing that shows me you are guilty.’ I was very balanced. I needed to think that he could be innocent. And there was that space in the case to believe that he is innocent.”
But while Lestrade isn’t certain if Peterson is guilty or not, he did insist that the trial wasn’t fair.
“The trial was not a fair trial. And the verdict was not a fair verdict. Again, the verdict and what happened that night may be very different.”
“When I say it was not a fair verdict and he should not have been found guilty of the crime, I am not saying he did nothing. I wanted to be very careful about that. I was in a way devastated by the verdict. Because I didn’t believe that the jury would find him guilty.”
You can form your own decision regarding “The Staircase” now, as all 13 episodes, including 3 brand new installments, are all available on Netflix.